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Apple Store 'Humiliates' The Disabled, Lawsuit Claims

The lawsuit charges that the San Francisco Apple Store's "entrance, path of travel, teaching theater seating, elevator, and restroom facilities" are not wheelchair accessible.
Two disabled consumers have sued Apple, claiming the computer maker's San Francisco retail outlet presents an array of "humiliating" obstacles to wheelchair-bound shoppers.

The lawsuit charges that the San Francisco Apple Store's "entrance, path of travel, teaching theater seating, elevator, and restroom facilities" are not wheelchair accessible -- in violation of federal and state laws.

The complaint was filed last week in U.S. District Court in Northern California on behalf of disabled shoppers Nicole Brown-Booker and Jana Overbo. Brown-Booker and Overbo both depend on motorized wheelchairs for transportation. Investment group Deka Immobilien Investment GMBH, a part owner of the property on which Apple's Stockton Street store sits, is also named as a defendant.

Brown-Booker says that a May 17 trip to the store to buy a computer game for her nephew's birthday ended in frustration and humiliation. She was unable to reach the buttons in the store's elevator, aisles were too narrow for her to navigate, and she couldn't reach the credit card reader at a crowded cash register. "Other customers waited behind her and this attracted unwanted attention," the suit claims.

Overbo's trouble occurred when she tried in July to visit the San Francisco store's "Genius Bar" -- where Apple technicians stand by to help shoppers with technical problems. Despite Overbo's early arrival for an appointment, technicians didn't know she was there. Overbo ended up "going from one end of the Genius Bar to the other shouting, 'Hello, I'm here for my appointment,'" according to the complaint.

Overbo claims that a section of the Genius Bar counter that had been lowered for use by the disabled was blocked by the presence of a large, desktop computer.

Overbo also had trouble reaching store items -- a situation that may have cost Apple a sale or two. "If she had been able to reach other items in the store, Jana would have looked at and tried out the Mac Book Pro and iPhone," the suit contends. The lawsuit also claims that the San Francisco Apple Store's "teaching theater" is not fully accessible to the disabled.

Brown-Booker and Overbo are asking the court for an injunction that would force Apple to make the store more wheelchair-friendly and are seeking unspecified damages for "physical, mental, and emotional injuries."

Apple representatives did not immediately return a call seeking comment.